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Hunger in America ~ Feeding my Family on a Budget: Week One

We are just wrapping up the first week of my “experiment” to see if I can feed my family of four on $632 for the month.

So far, so good! Although I do have some disclaimers, and I will talk about those in a bit. First, my weekly shopping. I decided to head to Walmart for my grocery shopping. I primarily shop at Safeway due to it’s proximity to my home, but I also shop at Walmart as it is halfway between my home and my place of work. Walmart always cost me less at the checkout counter. So for this month, I am going to shop exclusively at Walmart. I typically also shop at Trader Joe’s and Costco – I am able to get great deals at both of these places. But I am limiting my resources as I think if I were really limited in funds, I would not be driving to different stores, and I would not have a membership to Costco. So Walmart it is.

During my first trip to the store (I had two trips this week) I did not shop with a shopping list. Ialways shop with a list, but this time I shopped with the intent of stretching my food dollars. I was looking for deals. I was not running a mental tab of the cost as I placed items in the cart, instead I focused on finding good deals on proteins, fruits, veggies, and panty staples. I bought a lot, and my shipping cart was full! Looking at my cart I was thinking that I had probably spent approximately $300, so I was genuinely and very pleasantly surprised to have a total shopping bill of only $174.95! Wow! I was impressed!

So what did I buy? Salmon, hamburger, flounder, chicken, shrimp, eggs, bread, cheese, lunchmeat, cereal, apples, bananas, broccoli, lettuce, zucchini, potatoes, onions, tortillas, canned goods, pizza, crackers, popcorn and much more.  I even bought pretzels and Wheat Thins for the kids’ lunches. Really, I felt as though I bought a lot. What might be more telling is what I did not buy. I did not buy shredded cheese, I bought large bricks; I did not buy individual yogurts, I bought the large quart size; I did not by diet sodas, organic anything, nor the cage-free eggs that I usually buy. I choose the cheaper food items. That meant making different choices for some food items. But not all. I still chose family favorites like Kashi and Cheerio cereals and Chobani yogurt.


I made a second trip to the grocery store five days later and spent another $65.52.  This time I did splurge a bit, I bought the kids cookies and puddings to have added to their school lunches, and I bought my husband a six-pack of beer and fizzy waters. I might regret some of these choices later in the month, but right now I felt as though I could make them fit into our budget.

Grocery Receipts

What We Ate:

Our dinners this week:
Sloppy Joe’s, homemade potato fries, celery, carrots, and grapes
Tuna Casserole with peas and a salad
Tacos with corn and rice
Eggs and hash browns (breakfast for dinner)
Chicken thighs, lentils with veggies, and salad
Moroccan Meatballs, couscous, and broccoli
Friday night was a night out – I bought the large pizza for that night, but it still sits in the freezer.

And that brings me to a disclaimer. I was gone for four days this week and left my husband in charge of cooking 🙂 I spent part of this last week at science camp with my sixth graders – where the kitchen staff fed us breakfast, lunch, and dinner. One of the small joys of going to camp each year with my students is that I get the time off cooking. But for our household, that also meant there was one less mouth to feed at three breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. Friday night my husband and I also had a dinner out at a school function, and the kids also ate away from home that night. So we were a little short of feeding a family of four every meal this week; however, with my son visiting next weekend and friends in and out, I think it will balance itself out over a month’s time. Breakfasts included cereal, eggs, yogurt and fruit, oatmeal. Lunches during the week were bagged lunches and included sandwiches, fruit, veggies, and usually something crunchy. Weekends give us time for a bit more – baked oatmeal with fruit, grilled cheese and tomato soup. It was pretty standard fare for breakfasts and lunches.

According to the kids and my husband the food this week has been anywhere from OK to great. I admit, it has been some pretty simple fare. Mostly nutritious – maybe not perfect but a good variety of fresh fruits and vegetables every day. I know there has been plenty of food in the house.

We are down to $391.53 – three more weeks to go. We still have a freezer filled with salmon, flounder, shrimp, chicken, and pizza.

Homemade Fries

These are really so quick and easy, I do not know why anyone ever buys frozen french fries or Tator-Tots. I made these to accompany the Sloppy Joe’s. They are delicious and a fraction of the cost.

Homemade Fries


  • 2 large russet potatoes – Cleaned but not peeled
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • Salt and Pepper (Sometimes I add fresh chopped rosemary)


  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Spread oil over a rimmed cookie sheet
  3. Cut potatoes into large “fries”
  4. Place potato onto cooke sheet and toss to coat in oil
  5. Sprinkle salt and pepper onto potatoes
  6. Bake in oven 20 minutes – turning once or twice to brown more sides.
Homemade Fries

Do this first and by the time everything else is ready the potatoes will be done.

So much food from my first shopping trip.


You can read here if you want to see what prompted this experiment.

And the results each week


Transparency of Medication Prices

(1) Comment

  1. Great post! I love the challenge 🙂 Thanks for linking up! XO

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